Steele: Garden tour revives memories

The Kelowna Garden Tour brought back memories of my parent’s half-acre garden on the first tour in 1997.

Last week I enjoyed visiting gardens on the Kelowna Garden Tour.

It brought back memories of my parent’s half-acre garden on the first tour in 1997.

It was incredibly gratifying for them to share their labour of love that had evolved over 50 years from a bush-covered lot.

My mother’s peony ‘hedge’ was in full bloom and reminiscent of the hedge of peonies along my grandmother’s driveway that she divided and shared with Mom.

The shaded rock garden was full of dazzling begonias whose tubers Dad carefully took inside every winter and started up each spring in his little greenhouse.

The rose garden was in full bloom.

The new perennial bed I helped make with plants from my nursery was full of colour and backed by a row of amazing delphiniums grown from seed by Dad.

Beyond was the immaculate, English-style fruit and vegetable garden.

Covering one third of their property, it still produced more than enough to feed a family of six even though we had long since left home.

Mom and Dad (Vitie and Art Hughes-Games) enjoyed sharing gardening tips and stories, identifying plants, and being with other appreciative gardeners. It was a very special day.

Today would have been their 65th wedding anniversary. Dad is still gardening at 91 but sadly Mom died 14 years ago.

The gardens that stand out, in my years of garden tour memories, were created by homeowners and showed a great love for the plants themselves and for gardening with nature.

This year there were several of these.

I was delighted to see two young families show their gardens. Both were full of birds, butterflies and pollinators, had food gardens and many nature-interactive elements for the children to participate in and learn from.

In one garden the plum tree was full of black aphids which were being left alone for the black and red ladybug larvae to devour.

Apparently this happens most years and the aphids will be cleaned up in a week.

It was a delight to volunteer in Louba Kruger’s beautiful garden last Saturday. Over 25 years, and many changes, the garden has evolved into a showcase of lush, healthy plants.

It has amazing soil considering the rocky, weedy mess she started with. Her secret is leaf mulch.

She collects leaves into moistened mounds where she wants to plant next year and covers them with mulch. Over winter they rot, creating rich soil ready for planting into.

Through challenging times, Louba found her life-long passion for gardening has become a source of inspiration and therapy.

This year Ballet Kelowna did a fine job in its first year of running the Kelowna Garden Tour.

Proceeds go to supporting Ballet Kelowna. If you have a garden that you would consider opening for a garden tour in the future, please contact Debbie MacMillan at Ballet Kelowna.